Travel Ladybugs: Places to visit in San Francisco's Richmond District
by Michelle Chan
San Francisco is a just city bursting interesting things to do. With its quintessential California vibe and laid-back, slightly hippie environment, there’s always an infinite number of nooks and crannies to explore in order to really capture what it means to live in the city by the bay. What’s so unique to this city is that its districts could not contrast more with each other; you can be walking on a street full of coffee shops and the next street down can be full of liquor stores. While the touristy-spots are a large portion of what makes San Francisco, well, San Francisco, there are so many more districts to explore that are an entirely new world.
I recently went down to The City (as we Bay Area residents like to call it) with a friend and just had to spend the weekend in the Outer Richmond District. While it’s far away from the hustle and bustle that is the Financial District, it’s nonetheless exciting in every way. I can guarantee that its picturesque views and the aesthetic of living like a local will only make you fall more in love with the area. Here is a few places I highly recommend exploring (and getting lost in):
With the ocean right at the edge of Outer Richmond, it is quite impossible not to go to Baker Beach. Walk along the grandiose residential houses with their ravishingly embellished exteriors and you’ll find yourself coming right up to Baker Beach. With its perfect view of the enormous Golden Gate Bridge in the distance, soft, non-rocky sand, and sparkling sea, this beach is just begging for you to take a snapshot. It’s both family and dog friendly; You can just walk a few minutes to a nearby park. You’ll want to stay here under the perfectly warm sun and never want to leave! Fun fact: The late Robin Williams (bless his soul) owned a house here and was often said to have loved the area.
THE ART BISTRO
If you fancy a cup of freshly brewed coffee and a nice bagel sandwich, hop on over to The Art Bistro on 33rd Ave and Geary Blvd. Whether you walk or take a short, easy Muni ride, this corner coffee shop is open to both locals and passersby. After a few visits, this cafe has easily become my go-to place whenever I’m in the area. One thing I noticed was that the owners and employees always had regular customers, greeting them by their names and even coming out from behind the counter just to say hello. It’s a really great place if you like people watching, while sitting down with a book in hand and absorbing the coffee shop aesthetic that you can only dream of experiencing.
GREEN APPLE BOOKS
Like books and music? Head on over to Green Apple Books between Clement St. and 6th Ave, for some nice deals on used books and vinyl records. Enter this cute, intricate bookshop and you are instantly transported into a bookworm’s dreamland. What I absolutely love about this place is its rickety wooden stairs that are seemingly placed randomly around the shop that lead to little corners and rooms filled with––you guessed it––more books. It’s like an entirely different world––a world of peace and comfort. Three doors down and you’ll find the bookshop’s endless vinyl and CD collection. Honestly, what more could you ask for?
Clement Street is home to a variety of Asian cuisines––Burmese, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese...you’ll definitely have a hard time choosing just one. One of my favorites is Ilana’s Coffee. Although it’s a nice place to hangout and get coffee, it’s really their superb Vietnamese sandwiches that are to die for.
I know Haight-Ashbury is outside of the Richmond District, but this district is by far one of the most interesting places I’ve explored. The slight counter-culture vibe and vibrant colorful murals that decorate the area take you back to the hippie era. Filled with a variety of thrift shops and hipster music stores (see Amoeba Music), it’s hard not to get lost in this district.
San Francisco is a unique hub of multiple cultures and peaceful vibes. Whether it’s your first visit or your hundredth visit, there’s always something new to discover in this intricate city.